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How to prevent cyber threats by strengthening your passwords.

Do NOT use real words or identifying information.

Did you know that the simplest password hacking software can guess a password that uses real words -- forward and backward? Also avoid using proper nouns (i.e., your pet's name), keyboard patterns (qwerty is obvious, but any keyboard patterns are easily decode-able), letter or number sequences, or biographical information like your date of birth. Words with numbers added to them, such as "Lakers99" are also easy to predict.

Try to use mnemonics.

A mnemonic password uses a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that help you remember it more easily. An anonymous survey of password mnemonic techniques revealed some great ideas to help others find their best password creation:


#1. Use the same, short sentence for every password, except with one variable word that changes depending on the first letter of the domain. Also replace a few letters with their lookalike numbers and add an exclamation point at the end. The process looks something like this:

"I like ___ in the morning" translates to: 1l1k3____1nth3m0rn1ng!

Fill in the blank for each password needed for different accounts, such as: "1l1k3FRU1T1nth3m0rn1ng!" for email, "1l1k3EgG51nth3m0rn1ng!" for Gmail, and 1l1k3C077331nth3m0rn1ng! for Twitter.


#2. Always use passwords with positive reinforcement. For example, if you're a pay raise, you could change your password to something you aim to do with that raise, like a lower car payment: "20%dwnC4Rpymt." Similarly, if you have a personal or professional goal you want to achieve, use that for a password, as a daily reminder of that goal.


Make your password er on the long side.

Did you know it's more important to create long passwords than it is to create complex ones? Here's why: If every character of your password can be chosen from 62 possible characters (any of the letters "a" through "z," uppercase "A" through "Z," and any number -- and that's not including symbols), then a 12-character password has 62¹² (yes, squared) possible combinations, which means the number of possible combinations ends up being a 28-digit number, and will make a high-end password hacking software tool work very hard. Add one more letter, and you have a 30-digit number, and so on. The longer the better. Don't worry, this is just to give you a better idea of the significance of longer passwords.


Do have different passwords for every account.

A study by Microsoft found that, for the majority of people, their "growing number of password accounts is maintained using a small collection of passwords. For a user with 18 password accounts, the problem becomes not remembering 30 distinct passwords, but rather remembering which of 5 or 6 passwords was used. This appears to be done using a combination of memory, pieces of paper, trial and error, and password resets."


Use default passwords.

Default passwords are the ones sent by vendors when you open your account or reset your password. Usually, these passwords are sent to your email address for you to reset, which means your archived emails are a jackpot of passwords.

To find these threatening passwords, search your email account for emails containing the word "password" and delete all the results. Search for "login" and "username," too. 


Use a secure password management tool.

Do you reset a password at least once a month? You're not alone. It's difficult to remember more than a few passwords, especially if you're following all of the rules we've told you about in this article. That's where getting a password management tool comes in. Password managers with good reviews are LastPass 3.0, and KeePass.


Take extra precautions to protect your most important passwords.

This includes your bank, investment accounts, and personal and work emails. Make these passwords the longest and most complex of all your passwords.

Until we can do DNA scans to authenticate every account we have, multiple, long, complex passwords are the best we can do. Hopefully, by following these tips, you'll build more secure passwords -- and remember them, too.


Minimize your password problems with GuestVision's integrated bio-metrics.

Another great way to keep your school safe from data breaches is using bio-metric finger print readers. Although it's not literally DNA, it is the closest and most accurate security enhancement on the market today. Our software system is also encrypted and specifically made for schools, so there's never a worry about unsecured data. Interested? Contact us for a quote or demo and see how GuestVision can help your school today!